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Why Babies Spit Up

If a baby's stomach is full or the baby's position is all of a sudden changed after a feeding, the stomach contents can force the sphincter open and flood back up the esophagus. In contrast to vomiting, spitting up doesn't involve forceful muscle contractions, brings up only small amounts of milk, and doesn't distress your baby or make him uncomfortable.

Many babies spit up after gulping down air with milk or formula. The best way to prevent this is to feed your baby before she gets very hungry. Hold her at an angle that prevents air from entering her mouth while she feeds. Gently burp her when she takes breaks during feedings (see Remedies for Spitty Babies). Limit active play after meals, and hold your baby in an upright position for at least 20 minutes.

Common Concerns, Possible Causes & Actions to Take

Your baby spits up a little after most feedings.

  • Possible cause: Gastroesophageal reflux (normal if mild)
  • Action to take: None. The spitting up will grow less frequent and stop as your baby's muscles mature.

Your baby gulps her feedings and seems to have a lot of gas.

  • Possible cause: Aerophagia (swallowing more air than usual)
  • Action to take: Make sure your baby is positioned properly.

Your baby spits up when you bounce him or play after meals.

  • Possible cause: Overstimulation
  • Action to take: Keep mealtimes calm, and limit active play for about 30 minutes afterward.

Your baby's spitting up has changed to vomiting with muscle contractions that occur after every feeding. The vomit shoots out with force.

  • Possible cause: Pyloric stenosis or another health problem that requires diagnosis and treatment.
  • Action to take: Call you pediatrician right away so he or she can examine your baby.

You are finding blood in your baby's spit-up or vomit.

  • Possible cause: Esophagitis or another health problem that requires diagnosis and treatment.
  • Action to take: Call you pediatrician right away so he or she can examine your baby.

Call Your Pediatrician If:

  • Your baby vomits forcefully after every feeding.
  • Your baby is losing or unable to gain weight.
  • There is blood in your baby's vomit.

Additional Information:

Last Updated
11/21/2015
Source
The Big Book of Symptoms: A-Z Guide to Your Child’s Health (Copyright © 2014 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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